Serbian cable firm Serbia Broadband (SBB) has slammed the country’s regulator for neglecting its duties after the utility firm EPS (Elektroprivreda Serbia) significantly increased rental rates for space on its pylons.
According to local news outlet Beta, SBB believes that EPS is attempting to “impose unfair conditions by demanding an increased compensation of 108% for each pole in Belgrade, or 64% for the rest of Serbia”. Since EPS is the only company in Serbia that owns and operates utility poles, SBB argues that the utility company’s actions amount to an abuse of its monopoly.
SBB claimed that the “enormous price increase” had been made with no justification, and that the rates were the highest in the region and “much higher than in many EU countries”.
In response, EPS refuted the allegation that it had doubled its rental rates and noted that of the 65 operators that house equipment on its infrastructure, 62 had agreed to its new lease terms.
The utility firm has also filed a lawsuit to procure payment of EUR1.18 million (US$1.29 million) from SBB after the cable firm continued to use its poles without signing a new contract after the expiry of their previous agreement in June 2019.
EPS argues that SBB’s actions in this instance were illegal, noting that it made several requests for payment from the cable firm before finally taking legal action. In addition to the outstanding rent bill, EPS noted that it would now need to cover the cost of removing SBB’s equipment from poles in Belgrade, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Nis and Novi Sad.
SBB has requested intervention from regulator RATEL (Republic Agency for Electronic Communications) in the case, but reportedly the body has denied the request on the grounds that EPS’ price increase has been accepted by almost all of the operators involved.